(AKA, The Canoe Trip Through Time)
I decided to try out a kayuko with my friend Eric to get across the bay from Santiago to Chutinamit, the unexcavated Mayan pyramids that were never abandoned until the Spanish Conquistadors arrived at Atitlÿn. The ruins have long since been covered with vegetation, but their outline can still be seen from across the lake. Although they are pretty big structures, they seem small compared to the immense volcano which towers above them.
Chutinamit is a series of three pyramids built on top of a steep hill. We stashed the kayuko in the reeds, making sure it would not blow away, leaving us stranded on the wrong side of the bay. Although no one actually lives on the ruins themselves, there are a few houses around the base and there are cornfields all the way up the hill. As we worked our way above the houses and into these fields it became very clear that there was once a great civilization here. The corn grows intermittently between large boulders that stick out the hillside. Upon closer inspection we could see that these rocks were all very square in shape and smooth, obviously carved by human hands. It looked like the hill itself had actually been carved into a pyramid.
Although they are crumbling, the tops of the three pyramids are still clearly visible. One still has an opening and a passage that leads ten or fifteen feet inside. I climbed inside a little ways, but without a flashlight I didn't want to venture too far since I had no idea what sort creatures live there these days. The outline of the main square and the ball court are still visible as well, although both have now been covered with soft grass and variety of different trees and plants. It was remarkable to see nature reclaiming something so immense and solid as stone pyramids.
When I got back I checked my email, and was surprised to find a message asking me to hurry to go to Costa Rica to interview the former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias. I was excited at this opportunity, but sad to be leaving Guatemala a week earlier than I had expected. It is strange how fast you grow to love a place. Although I was only there for five weeks, there are many things I will miss about Guatemala, especially the beautifully dressed and friendly indigenous people. I do look forward to the many incredible places that I will visit on the way to Peru, but it is sad to leave a place where you have had many incredible experiences and made some friends. I guess this is just one of the sacrifices you have to make if you want to be a world trekker.
Kevin - La Cucaracha! La Cucaracha!
Kevin - La Cuacaracha, the KIDS' VERSION
Monica - Of Gritos and Guerras: Contrast between Nicaragua and Costa Rica
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